Isabelle Roughol – The J junkie

The tribulations of a young journalist and writer looking for work

Archive for the ‘Media business’ Category

Reader comments on nytimes.com? Ever?

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I’m going to pick on the New York Times again. I just read an article on the impact of Karadzic’s arrest on the credibility of war crime tribunals. Interesting stuff. I did, however, find an error in the story. Nothing too dramatic really: it says the International Crimininal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was created in 1983: in fact, it was in 1993. That’s not my problem; typos happen, and it doesn’t take away from the understanding of the story.

My problem is, there’s not one way on the page to notify the paper of the error. No comment option (seriously?), no way to email the writer or editor, not even an apparent link to a contact page. (My bad, it’s in 6-point font at the bottom if you scroll down all the way.) I don’t wanna write a gotcha comment; I just want to let a colleague know about something I noticed, so his error doesn’t stay up there for someone meaner to notice. That’s what you do; otherwise, it’s like letting someone walk around all day with a piece of lettuce between their teeth. You just don’t do that. So instead of sending a simple note to the reporter, I must resort to a blog post and hope it will register on their radar. (This shall be tagged appropriately.)

In addition to losing the precious insight of feedbacks, not making reader comments easy doesn’t make a paper look good. The Times doesn’t need another reason for someone to call them arrogant or disconnected.

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Written by Isabelle Roughol

Tuesday, 22 July, 2008 at 08:50

The Columbia Missourian should look to an online future, rather than strike a deal with the Daily Tribune

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Columbia Missourian editor Tom Warhover, my former boss, is asking readers what they think of a possible business partnership with the Columbia Daily Tribune, the paper across town. I am putting my thoughts down, but taking the liberty of overstepping Tom’s mandate. If we’re going to rethink the Missourian, we gotta rethink the whole journalism school. Bear with me; these thoughts have been forming for three years. Journalism junkies and concerned citizens, please read. Others, move on or put up with a 1200-word essay. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Thursday, 19 June, 2008 at 06:11

I graduated!

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At last, I graduated this weekend with some emotion. I even stopped by the Missourian on Saturday night and almost shed a tear when saying goodbye to the empty newsroom. I am now in Colorado and shedding a tear at the grandeur of the landscape.

Ken Paulson, editor of USA Today, was our graduation speaker. He had one quote to be remembered. I roughly remember it as this: “Everyone talks about ‘the media’ as though we all meet in one big room on Tuesday mornings and decide what the agenda for the week is gonna be. So not true. We meet on Fridays.”

Congratulations, Missouri School of Journalism class of ’08! I have learned tons with you and met some of the most fascinating people I know. I truly cherish the memories and wish I could have still learned more, done more, met more. I’m taking Mizzou with me to Cambodia.

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Tuesday, 20 May, 2008 at 05:39

What rules do you follow when blogging about journalism?

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Instead of writing the 3 blog posts I’ve had in mind for a week, I am powering through midterms these days. On this gorgeous Sunday, I am stuck in a coffee shop writing the first draft of my journalism capstone ethics paper. Which gets me to the question: what rules do you follow when blogging about journalism?

I am writing my midterm on the ethics of media blogging. Everyone and their mother has written about blogging ethics, but I am wondering particularly about the rules that apply to blogging about your own industry, the people you work with or might work with, even the very company you work for. How do you blog your honest opinion without burning yourself with future employers? How do you conciliate your journalist’s instinct to spit out all the information you have with your employer’s right to proprietary information? In general, how do you think news organizations are faring, when they praise transparency in the editorial process but are usually pretty defensive on disclosing their business practices, and what can/should bloggers do about it?

As you can tell, the topic is pretty wide. I’m only on the first draft, but I need help. Be kind, share your opinion and pass this request around to media bloggers you know.

Full disclosure: All comments will be sourced/attributed. This is for a footnoted paper that will serve as my ethics statement for my J-school senior assessment. It will be published on the portfolio section of this site, with a handful of industry insiders reading it (a 2-year-old’s handful, really). Excerpts might be used on this blog.

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Sunday, 9 March, 2008 at 19:02

A bad day calls for some random link-blogging

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I will not blog about the New York Times’ story on John McCain and his lobbyist friend. That’s right. Everyone and their mother has done it, and much better than I. I will, however, shamelessly plug McCain’s name here in an attempt to fool the Googly folks.

Item of note today: someone agrees with me. You might remember that I asked newspapers to stop shooting themselves in the foot by endorsing presidential candidates. (Jay Rosen rightly points out that the Times endorsed McCain while it was investigating his “ethical lapses,” and at the very least the publisher was in touch with both the editorial and the news sides.) Apparently, Time managing editor Rick Stengel is on my side.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is going ahead with his reform of France’s external media, which I could blog about for hours. He just named famed journalist Christine Ockrent to director of the holding France Monde, which will regroup France’s international radio network RFI, trilingual cable news channel France 24 and francophone channel TV5Monde. Journalism unions were quick to point out that Ockrent is the wife of Bernard Kouchner, France’s foreign affairs minister. Ockrent defended her journalism credentials (I won’t deny they’re impressive) and said today on radio that she’s tired of being reduced to her “wife of” label. “Frankly, I find that unfair and humiliating,” Ockrent said. I couldn’t agree more, but she’s missing the point. Her new job puts France’s diplomacy and our international public media in the hands of the same couple. Can you say conflict of interest?

And lastly, think your job is threatened by bloggers, citizen journalists and the evil empire of Rupert Murdoch? Try fending off an insect invasion to save your paycheck.

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Friday, 22 February, 2008 at 05:39

I’m one of those kids that would rather watch The Daily Show than CNN

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Here’s why.

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Sunday, 27 January, 2008 at 17:47

Sarkozy’s media reform plan: some good ideas, with one big blunder

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Let me once again be your guide to the French media circus.

Our president Nicolas Sarkozy, who must love the media since he’s talking to it twice a day it seems, has proposed a media reform. He wants to create a parent company to bring together three public broadcasts: RFI, the France-based, worldwide, 19-language public radio network; TV5 Monde, a TV station that airs programming from French-language stations all over the world; and France 24, a 24-hour news channel airing in French, English and Arabic that was created in Dec. 2006, the brainchild of Sarkozy’s predecessor Jacques Chirac.

The project’s already got a name, France Monde, and guess what? It’s already got a wiki page.

The idea is far from stupid. It brings together the resources and advertising revenues of 3 major networks for a projected total budget of 400 million euros. The service could become more coherent, more comprehensive and the networks would share their audiences.

Wait, did I say “advertising revenue”? My mistake. That’s the other thing: Mr. Sarkozy wants to drop all advertising from public television to improve its quality, citing the BBC as a model. (Now that I think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen advertising on the BBC.)

Here, I should paint you a picture of France’s television landscape. It’s not like in the States where three major private networks battle it out, with cable on their heels, and the public service — though of great quality — gets the crumbs (political activists and public schools). French public television is a major contender; it’s channels 2, 3, 4 and 5 against the private channels 1 (TF1) and 6 (M6), which are partnered. That kind of competition takes major money. It hurts to make the Brits a compliment, but it’s true their public service is much better than ours. But couldn’t improvements be made without dropping advertising? Mr. Sarkozy proposes a tax on TV sets and something else to compensate the loss. Sure. I too thought it was too easy doing business in a country where 45 percent of the national income is redistributed through taxes. Let’s go for another percentage point.

I should also mention that Mr. Sarkozy is best buddy with Martin Bouygues, the owner of TF1, which stands to gain up to 400 millions euros in advertising transfers. Hard to believe in the sincerity of the proposal.

Back to the France Monde plan. Mr. Sarkozy is getting a lot of heat for it from other world leaders; he may have forgotten in his plan that TV5 is a joint venture with Canada, Belgium and Switzerland, and he doesn’t get to make all the decisions. They’re not so keen on funding programming that would come almost entirely from France.

But while I could see good points to all these proposals so far, there is one that just gets my ranting going. A member of the committee that drafted the France Monde project called it, in a Le Monde article back in November, an “alternative to CNN and Al-Jazeera.” It’s about putting France on the map of international news networks. Wonderful. Note that it’s exactly what France 24 was created for.

That’s all great, but how do you plan on doing that when Mr. Sarkozy has declared that France Monde should only air in French?!

“With taxpayers’ money, I am not prepared to broadcast a channel that does not speak French,” Sarkozy told journalists at a press conference earlier this month. (The Guardian)

That’s right. Bu-bye RFI’s 19 languages, France 24’s ambitious 3-language launch. Should we also drop the Quebec accent on TV5? Ridiculous. We’re not back in 1680, and all the elites of the world do not speak French fluently. Even an English-only network would be short-sighted if you ask me. RFI has a great program to teach French in all the countries it covers, with news bulletin in simplified French and lessons on the air. But how do you turn people on to learning French if you don’t first get to them in their own language?

Full disclosure: I just applied for an internship with France 24, and I’d rather not that my advantage of being fully bilingual become moot. I’d also rather not that thousands of multi-lingual correspondents around the world become unemployed. But beyond that, I’d rather not that my own country close up like a shell and multiply the demagogic, defensive actions against the supposed barbaric hordes at its doorstep. It is this very fear that shows our decline.

And Mr. Sarkozy, if really you want to defend the French Word, I’m still waiting on a French as a Second Language program in all public schools.

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Saturday, 26 January, 2008 at 22:47